I’m a girl who likes to proclaim things. Announce things. Make big and ambitious plans and shout them from the rooftops.
- 3rd Grade – “I’m going to be a lawyer!”
I’m a communicator. I process things through talking. A LOT of sh-t swirls through my head, so unless I say things out loud, they don’t necessarily feel real. And thus, I’ve always been one to proclaim.
- 9th Grade – “I’m going to go to Notre Dame!”
Some of the things of which I’m most proud started as proclamations to my parents or my girlfriends. I was kicked out of my small liberal arts college, and after a few years of feeling academically lost, I proclaimed I’d get back into my former school and complete my degree. I did just that. I gained a very large amount of weight in my 20s and one day decided I was going to lose it. All of it. And I did…all 100 lbs. The week after I met my husband I emailed a girlfriend and said “I think I might marry this guy” and this fall we will celebrate five years together and three years of marriage. I have proclaimed that I’d be hired for jobs I secretly felt I had no business getting, and I did. I have proclaimed I’d have sales that were far above what I expected I was even capable of, and I achieved them. I have proclaimed that, against all signs pointing in the other direction, my husband and I would make it. And we did. Saying things out loud can be powerful stuff.
- Age 29 – “I’m going to own this condo. By myself.”
It can also, however, leave you looking (feeling) like a fool when saying something out loud helps you realize it’s not at all what you want. When you broadcast to an audience that is worldwide and your proclamation can be thrown back in your sheepish face. You then have a choice to make. Do I a) pretend that said proclamation was never made? Do I b) make a subsequent proclamation back peddling and trying to convince others that my decision was a sound one? Or do I c) simply explain that after saying it out loud I realized that what I really, truly, and genuinely want is not what I thought? I’m going with option C.
- Age 36 (One Month Ago) – “I’m going to law school!“
A little over a month ago I made a grand announcement on this blog. After nearly 25 years of playing with the idea of law school…after applying, getting in, and withdrawing a mere two weeks before school was to start…after allowing it to take up good space in my head for all of this time…I was finally going to do it. I joined an intense three-month LSAT prep course, got my box full of books, sat through four sessions, and was on my way to be a well prepared test taker in October. I started to think of the people I’d ask to write me stellar letters of recommendation. I didn’t worry about the “how” I just started to sprint down that path.
Around the same time I began to heal from a very long battle with back pain. I started to exercise again. I started to sleep through the night without the aid of Tylenol PM and ice packs. I felt like I was living for the first time, really living the way I want to, in nearly a year. Suddenly I made time to read books upon books. I took time to see friends. And then my husband and I started to have real, life-altering, and inspiring conversations about where we want to go in this life of ours.
He asked radical questions like…
Husband: What do you WANT to do every day?
Husband: What work makes you the most HAPPY?
DLP: For what do you receive the most appreciation?
Me: My writing.
DLP: How do you want to FEEL throughout your life and WHAT makes you feel that way?
Umm…wait a second. Is something wrong with this picture?! I started thinking about the LSAT course I’ve been immersed in over the past several weeks…and while there are aspects of it that I enjoy like playing logic games (who doesn’t?!)…for the most part the thing I enjoyed most was just knowing I was DOING something I’d proclaimed. Does law school sound like fun? Not really, no. Does fulfilling my proclamation to go sound fun? Absolutely. Is THAT worth the $100,000 it’s going to cost to go to school?
I started to peel away at my desire to go to law school, as well as all of the other masters degrees I’ve thought about, and I realized something BIG. If I go to law school, pass the bar, and don’t achieve enormous success (as I fully intend to achieve in my lifetime), I’m still an attorney. If I went to school to become a professor, maybe I wouldn’t write a best-selling book, but I’d be a professor nonetheless.
But…if I write and don’t tackle the success I’ve always dreamed of, the success I want for my family…then what am I? I mean…can I even call myself a writer if there isn’t anything tangible out there with my name on it? And then what? What can my husband say I do if people ask? What can my little girls be proud of?
Ooofff. It’s amazing what you find when you peel away the layers of fear and figure out what you’re actually afraid of.
So here’s the thing. Nearly everything I’ve done professionally thus far pales in comparison to the way writing makes me feel. I have certainly received awards, and accolades, and financial bonuses for my work, but none of that feels as good as receiving an email from someone who felt inspired, or not alone, or enjoyed a good laugh, or thought “at least I’m not that broad” in response to something I’ve written. There is nothing like seeing another “Like” on Facebook, another comment on a post, or to know that people actually think what I’m doing is worthy of their time.
I already have something about which I’m passionate. Something that feeds my soul. Something that allows me to connect with people through communication (which I LOVE so much it hurts!). Something that allows me to process all of the sh-t that we, as human beings, go through daily. And it’s writing. But I’ve been spinning my wheels trying to figure out how to add writing onto something “legit.” Something that will allow me a title of some sort. A title that I thought would finally allow me to feel WORTHY of the success I crave. And that right there? That’s so ridiculous and energy sucking and a perfect recipe for disaster and misery. None of which do I want anything to do with.
I’m not going to make any bold proclamations. Although, of course, I have thousands of new ones spinning through my head…think bigger/better blog, magazine articles, book deals, online magazine, etc. I’m simply going to say this…
TODAY: What if I’ve ALREADY found my calling? What if I’m a WRITER? And what if that’s better than any of the other things I’ve spun my wheels thinking about thus far? And…while I’m feeling really brave…what if from this point forward I drop the rest of the BS that swirls through my head (law school, etc.), and I just work to become the best damn writer I’m capable of becoming?
And that my friends is how you back out of a previous proclamation, not feeling foolish, but feeling empowered.